Suzhou and Zhouzhuang

Authored by:
Sage M.

So what did I do on this mysterious weekend I eluded you about?

I had only just had my first week of classes, but the CIEE program had decided to send us on a weekend trip. There were four weekend trips, and I went on the one to Suzhou and Zhouzhuang: two beautiful cities probably no further than two or three hours from my school in Shanghai.

Saturday we spent in Suzhou and Sunday we spent in Zhouzhuang. My new friend and dear companion, Leecam, was almost always with me when we went out. We had a pretty strict itinerary that we stuck too, but, I must confess, we did end up late to quite a few places.

Honestly, it would take me a lot of time to go over everything that happened, so hopefully the videos below will give you some insight as to what we did in Suzhou and what we did in Zhouzhuang. Sorry that there are three of them and they are at minimum, eleven minutes long. But if you like nature and you want to know about what these parts of China look like I recommend you watch them all through. After all, it is the weekend for you all. (Quick note: I do apologise if there are any errors in the video or if it freezes or the audio doesn't play. It just does that but hopefully it will all go smoothly. My movie editing program is just being mean as of late...)




We did some market shopping, and there aren’t many pictures of either markets, but I did get some pretty amazing things. I have bought silk scarves (for incredibly cheap), a hand-made comb, a pocketwatch (that already broke), and a glass egg in which the artist painted inside and even wrote my Chinese name in!

The night I was away my host mom sent me a voice message of my little sister saying she missed me, and my host mom wished me well and hoped I was having fun. It really made me feel even closer to the family, knowing they were missing me, and of course, I missed them too. I was very happy to see them when we got back. I have now realized I literally do not like any restaurant food because it never compares to nainai’s food, even if it’s good, but nainai’s is the best food, likely because she puts so much love in it. I’ve eaten out in a few good places, but ultimately, nainai’s food is my favorite here in China.

As for the past few weeks…well. School has been an adventure, I will say. I have, of course, been learning lots of vocabulary and my speaking is getting increasingly better, especially at home. For me, speaking naturally with my host family is the time I’m most confident in speaking Mandarin, and they are always able to understand what I communicate. I’m also very happy, as I’ve also begun to understand some of the sentences and phrases my nai-nai and mei-mei have been saying to me. I’m very proud to announce I have been able to communicate with Joy and been able to play games with her. My tutor’s are helpful, but for me, it’s always a bit more forced when I have to speak, but I could just totally be adding extra stress there at the same time.

The homework feels like it’s never going to end, and I feel like I could very well be smothered by it all on top of the soon-to-be volunteering on top of meeting with the tutors. I remembered over the past week my goal for a gap year wasn’t to focus on grades. For me, my grades have been average, but I have been learning the material overall, even if some words/characters don’t actually make sense or register until a week later. I am certainly trying to do my best, but I do realize I do not have all the resources some other kids have (Pleco, Windows, why do you not have Pleco for Windows phones do you realize how much better my life could be), nor do I learn the same as they might, but I did speak with my teacher’s about my need for visualization when learning, and they have been more than willing to help out in that aspect. I do actually like how even on the oral tests, they will correct my grammatical errors and have me repeat the sentence until I can say it practically fluently. It is certainly my least favorite thing to do, but every one of my teachers and tutors will do this with me and it may take me five minutes of practice before it works, but I can not take for granted how much it helps in the long run.

I’ve been on break for over a week now, as it was the Mid-Autumn Festival, which had its ups and downs. But, considering how much I have splurged in terms of time with the videos, I will write another post and post it hopefully within the week, as now I have a VPN and can access this blogging website from home. Otherwise, hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week and make the best of it all!

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